REVIEW: The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

sweetestdarkThe Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe
Bantam, 2013
[Goodreads] [Amazon]

“With every fiber of my being, I yearned to be normal. To glide through my days at Iverson without incident. But I’d have to face the fact that my life was about to unfold in a very, very different way than I’d ever envisioned. Normal would become forever out of reach.”

Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.

England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.

Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.

Filled with lush atmosphere, thrilling romance, and ancient magic, The Sweetest Dark brilliantly captures a rich historical era while unfolding an enchanting love story that defies time.


You know that pervading feeling that, once you’ve read one YA paranormal romance you’ve read them all? Well, I’m happy to report that The Sweetest Dark is a nice break from your typical paranormal fare. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some common tropes used in this book. But overall I found this nicely refreshing, not only because our main character is a different sort of creature from the norm, but also because it’s set in the past during World War I, so has a distinctly historical flair as well. All in all there was little to complain about, at least for me, plus two swoon-worthy boys that I very much enjoyed getting to know!

Lora, our main character, is an orphan girl from London who’s given an opportunity to attend a prestigious finishing school on the coast of England. At the school she catches the eye of two boys (trope number one: love triangles), one a poor workman for the school named Jesse, and the other the son of the Duke who owns the school, Armand. She also gets an immediate enemy in Chloe (trope number two: the mean girl), who fancies herself Armand’s significant other, and is extremely jealous of the attention “Mandy” is giving another girl. (Sidenote: I don’t dig Armand’s nickname at all.) Of course it’s determined that Lora is a paranormal creature (SPOILER: she’s a drakon), and is drawn to both boys due to her nature and theirs as well. This book very much revolves around Lora’s personal journey, as she navigates her new knowledge about herself and what it means for her future.

This book reminded me very much of the Gemma Doyle books by Libba Bray. Lora’s story is very similar to that of Ann’s, and I found myself drawing a lot of comparisons between the two. This book was a bit slow to get started, but once she gets to school and meets the boys it definitely picks up. Without giving too much away, I want to say that the background to what Lora is and the way she’s connected to Jesse and Armand both was very interesting to read about, if a little confusing at times. I wish I could go more in depth on my feelings about the revelations into what Jesse, Armand and Lora all are, but I don’t want to spoil anyone, so shall refrain. It’s safe to say that it’s definitely different, though!

If you’re tired of your same old, same old, you just might want to give The Sweetest Dark a try. It is the first in a series (trope number three: the trilogy), but I found myself engaged enough in not only Lora’s story, but both Jesse and Armand’s as well that I’m looking forward to what’s coming next, especially considering the ending (no worries; there is no cliffhanger). I have to say that I actually find myself leaning more toward the “second” boy in the love triangle this time around, which doesn’t often happen. I will be very interested in seeing what comes of that!


An e-galley was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


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7 Responses to REVIEW: The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

  1. Quinn says:

    This one has been on my radar for a long time, but I haven’t gotten around to it. I’ll be honest, I really dislike love triangles. And, like you mentioned, they seem to be so common nowadays! But I might have to give this one a try.

    Thanks for the review!

    • Merin says:

      Ha, it’s probably been on your radar for so long because they kept changing the publishing date! It was originally supposed to be out last August, but was changed to April 2013. I’ve had it from Edelweiss for a LONG time.

      This one actually had a tolerable love triangle, which is something I never thought I’d say about a YA book ever. It really did remind me strongly of the Gemma Doyle books, and I loved those, so it was pretty win-win all around.

  2. Candice says:

    I’ve had this e-galley for a while, but just haven’t picked it up. You sold me on it with comparing it to the Gemma Doyle series!!! Can’t wait now to read it!

  3. Pingback: Stacking the Shelves #44 –

  4. Lauren says:

    Ooh, I love the Gemma Doyle books! This sounds like my kind of read. It’s really hard for a paranormal to stand out these days, but I’m glad to hear this one did. Great review!

  5. Pingback: REVIEW: The Deepest Night by Shana Abe | Read and Reviewed

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